A wildfire, bushfire, wild land fire or rural fire is an unplanned, unwanted, uncontrolled fire in an area of combustible vegetation starting in rural areas and urban areas. Depending on the type of vegetation present, a wildfire can also be classified more specifically as a forest fire, brush fire, bushfire (in Australia), desert fire, grass fire, hill fire, peat fire, prairie fire, vegetation fire, or veld fire. Many organizations consider wildfire to mean an unplanned and unwanted fire, while wild land-fire is a broader term that includes prescribed fire as well as wildland fire use (WFU; these are also called monitored response fires).

Fossil charcoal indicates that wildfires began soon after the appearance of terrestrial plants 420 million years ago. The occurrence of wildfires throughout the history of terrestrial life invites conjecture that fire must have had pronounced evolutionary effects on most ecosystems' flora and fauna. Earth is an intrinsically flammable planet owing to its cover of carbon-rich vegetation, seasonally dry climates, atmospheric oxygen, and widespread lightning and volcanic ignitions.

Wildfires can be characterized in terms of the cause of ignition, their physical properties, the combustible material present, and the effect of weather on the fire. Wildfires can cause damage to property and human life, although naturally occurring wildfires may have beneficial effects on native vegetation, animals, and ecosystems that have evolved with fire. Wildfire behavior and severity result from a combination of factors such as available fuels, physical setting, and weather.

Analyses of historical meteorological data and national fire records in western North America show the primacy of climate in driving large regional fires via wet periods that create substantial fuels, or drought and warming that extend conducive fire weather. Analyses of meteorological variables on wildfire risk have shown that relative humidity or precipitation can be used as good predictors for wildfire forecasting over the past several years.

High-severity wildfire creates complex early seral forest habitat (also called "snag forest habitat"), which often has higher species richness and diversity than an unburned old forest. Many plant species depend on the effects of fire for growth and reproduction. Wildfires in ecosystems where wildfire is uncommon or where non-native vegetation has encroached may have strongly negative ecological effects.

Wildfires are among the most common forms of natural disaster in some regions, including Siberia, California, and Australia. Areas with Mediterranean climates or in the taiga biome are particularly susceptible.

In the United States and other countries, aggressive wildfire suppression aimed at minimizing fire has contributed to accumulation of fuel loads, increasing the risk of large, catastrophic fires. In the United States especially, this wildfire suppression curtailed traditional land management methods practiced by Indigenous Peoples. Modern forest management taking an ecological perspective engages in controlled burns to mitigate this risk and promote natural forest life cycles. Read more

In the News

Fire near Jerusalem forces village evacuations   PhysOrg - August 17, 2021

Spain sizzles in crushing heat as fires blaze   PhysOrg - August 16, 2021

For The 1st Time In Recorded History, Smoke From Wildfires Reaches The North Pole   NPR - August 11, 2021

Thick smoke over Athens as suburbs battle wildfires   PhysOrg - August 3, 2021

'A Chronic Lack of Fire': The Paradox Fueling Megafires in The US   Science Alert - August 3, 2021

Sunday August 1, 2021- There were 91 large wildfires burning across the US. The blazes have burned more than 1.8 million acres, with more than 400,000 acres burned in Oregon by the Bootleg Fire alone. Monsoon rains moving into the West could stomp out some of the fires, but lightning and gusty winds could contribute to new ones. The US isn't alone: More than 100 blazes have swept Turkey in the past week, too.

Smoky Skies Prompt 911 Calls in Connecticut; State Issues Warning   NBC - July 27, 2021

Wildfire smoke in New England is 'pretty severe from public health perspective'   PhysOrg - July 27, 2021

Firefighters battle California blaze generating its own climate   PhysOrg - July 27, 2021

Possible future for Western wildfires: Decade-long burst, followed by gradual decline   PhysOrg - July 27, 2021

Thousands of animals perish, 1,500 people evacuate as massive wildfires ravage Sardinia, Italy   Watchers - July 27, 2021

Extreme Weather Sweeps The World as Natural Disasters Unleash on Multiple Continents   Science Alert - July 22, 2021

Society is right on track for a global collapse, new study of infamous 1970s report finds   Live Science - July 20, 2021

July 2021 - Smoke from West Coast Wildfires Blankets Northeast

The world is experiencing unprecedented flooding, record breaking temperatures, droughts, landslides, ice quakes, fire tornados, heat domes and other extreme weather conditions that are part of the closure of the simulation of reality.

CNN July 22, 2021 -- Wildfires are raging in unexpected parts of the globe as hot temperatures and dry conditions turn rarely burned places into tinderboxes. Near the Russian Siberian city known as the coldest in the world, fires have consumed more than 6.5 million acres since the start of the year. Most of Europe, the Western US, southwest Canada and some regions of South America experienced drier-than-average conditions in June, creating prime conditions for new blazes and making ongoing fires harder to battle. In California, Pacific Gas and Electric announced it will bury 10,000 miles of its power lines to reduce the risk of starting any more blazes. Equipment belonging to the nation's largest utility has played a role in sparking some of the deadliest wildfires in California.

July 20, 2021 - Smoke from West Coast Wildfires Wafts to East Coast

Ellie reporting from Bay Ridge Brooklyn

Wildfire smoke spreads across US in striking images from space Live Science

Massive wildfires in US West bring haze to East Coast PhysOrg

Video: Smoke From Western Wildfires Reaches Northeast Weather.com

Wildfire smoke from the West's massive blazes stretches all the way to the East Coast CNN